Rating: NC-17 (though you’ll need to read 13,000 words to get to that rating)
Word Count: 14,000 (yes, really)
Summary: He’s tempted to say something like this is not a fucking first date but then gets the feeling that that will create all kinds of awkwardness.
Author’s Notes: Basically, let’s say that Becker offered Connor a place to stay instead of Lester, yeah? Known in my head as The Potentially Out Of Character Becker/Connor Epic That Wouldn’t End, because I kept adding things to it. Loose season three spoilers in a couple of places, but it’s essentially AU so: *shrugs* And I don’t care if no one ever reads this, because I just wanted to write it, and it was awesome fun. And I’m using what ITV claims is Becker’s actual real first name
There’s a lot to be said for not being compassionate. Oh, sure, it can get you friends, but then friendships are full of complications. Like when they ask you something innocuous like what’ve you been up to this week? and you have to respond with it’s classified; an exchange that has not got any less boring for its constant repetition over the last few years. Black Ops to Dinosaurs and none of it is anything that can be shared over a pint.
Being compassionate can also lead to situations like the one Becker has got himself into now; watching a co-worker and two dinosaurs investigating his living room. The Diictodons seem more interested in scrabbling around underneath his futon and trying to find out whether any of the furniture in the room is edible (Becker’s really hoping that they’ll decide it isn’t), while Connor is going through his CD collection in a way Becker thinks is actually quite invasive. He’s tempted to say something like this is not a fucking first date but then gets the feeling that that will create all kinds of awkwardness.
“This is nice,” Connor says cheerfully, looking around the room, “Very… minimalist.”
Becker thinks something unkind along the lines of I can make you go back to living in the Coffee Machine Room, but for some reason his stupid compassionate mouth doesn’t form the words.
Becker goes running every morning at six; it not only helps maintain his fitness – he never gets to go to the gym any more, people at the ARC are forever trying to get themselves dead – but also gets him into a calm mental space for the day. He leaves his flat as quietly as he can manage, suddenly conscious of there being someone else here who probably will not appreciate being woken when it’s barely light, and spends an enjoyable hour running in the nearby park, where there are no dinosaurs of any description at all, and no one looking at him with the faintly accusing aren’t you meant to be head of security, why is Nick Cutter dead? sort of expression that most personnel seem to possess these days.
When Becker gets back home he takes a shower and gets dressed and then is forced to walk through his living room to get to the kitchen; a horrible design flaw he didn’t think of when he bought the place because it never occurred to him that he’d be letting a co-worker and his pet dinosaurs sleep on his sofa. Connor is sprawled on his back, one arm draped off the sofa, looking even younger than usual in sleep and snoring very softly. One of the Diictodons is lying on his chest, while the other is curled up on the floor beside the futon, just beneath Connor’s limp fingers.
It’s a weirdly domestic scene, and Becker suddenly and sharply finds himself thinking about a beloved pet dog he had as a child, before recalling that they ended up having to give him away because they were moving yet again. He clenches his teeth and goes to make some coffee, because there’s nothing like caffeine to wash away the memories of having a father who was far more interested in his rank and his medals than his actual family.
“Are they house-trained?” Becker asks, realising a little belatedly that this is something he should have thought of earlier.
It’s a quiet day when no one’s actively tried to kill them – prehistoric creature or human being – and Becker is feeling a little superfluous because everyone else in the ARC seems to have paperwork or things to investigate when they’re not running around after things that have escaped Anomalies, but he’s basically left to polish his gun. Which is in no way a euphemism.
Connor shrugs. “Hopefully?” he suggests.
Becker rolls his eyes. “Am I going to get home to find that your creatures have eaten my flat?”
“They didn’t eat Abby’s flat,” Connor replies. “Plus, Sid and Nancy are herbivores, they’d probably only eat your pot plants. If you had pot plants. Which you don’t.”
Becker resists the urge to roll his eyes again, because everything about Connor kind of makes him want to roll his eyes at him, but they do have to live together for now and he’d prefer a quiet life.
“That’s nice to know,” he says instead.
Connor grins at him, blithe and amused and weirdly endearing, and Becker decides to go and find something else to do. It doesn’t really matter what; just as long as it’s not here.
“You cook.” Connor sounds suspicious, prodding at the food in front of him with a fork.
“If this is the reaction I’m going to get, I won’t do it again,” Becker replies tartly.
“No!” Connor pulls his plate a little closer to him, as though afraid Becker will take it away in a fit of pique. He was, admittedly, considering this, but he didn’t think Connor had noticed. “No, it’s just… I didn’t know you could cook.”
“You don’t know anything about me,” Becker points out.
“I know you have a dreadful taste in music,” Connor responds cheerfully, and then pulls his food even nearer when Becker glares at him. “Well, ok, maybe not dreadful dreadful, just… um…” He trails off, and prods his dinner some more. “You cook,” he says again, eventually.
“I don’t spend all my time blowing things up,” Becker tells him.
Connor grins. “Well, now I know that.”
Becker is tempted to say something like I am going back to cooking for one from now on, you can carry on living on Pot Noodles and get scurvy but for some reason doesn’t. He allows himself a small smile and watches Connor eating.
Something bumps against his chair, causing him to drop the pasta on his fork, and he looks down to find one of the Diictodons hoovering it up.
“Should dinosaurs eat spaghetti?” he asks Connor.
“I really don’t know,” Connor replies. “They don’t do pet manuals for these guys, sadly.” He peers under the table and looks amused. “She likes you, you know.”
Becker looks doubtfully down at Nancy, who rubs her head against his chair in a strangely cat-like gesture.
“She’s not going to start humping my leg, is she?” he asks.
Connor shrugs. “We’ll have to wait and see,” he responds.
It’s not exactly reassuring.
There was a time when Becker had his life in control, though he’s rapidly forgetting what that was like; possibly it was sometime before he finished at Sandhurst, before he started being shipped off to hot countries where things kept exploding and people kept fucking dying around him. Now, of course, his life involves far too many dinosaurs and, at the moment, also involves no privacy whatsoever. His flat isn’t exactly tiny, but he’s not used to sharing it with another person and two dinosaurs who might be quite small but make up for that by being as destructive as possible.
Becker quickly learns how to keep things he really likes as high up as he can, and even learns to get used to the feeling of mild anxiety every time he unlocks his front door; he’s usually faced with two perfectly cheerful Diictodons, generally surrounded by the shredded remains of something Becker forgot to put out of harm’s way. Sid doesn’t like him and Becker swears blind that the creature takes a malicious pleasure in eating his curtains and pulling apart his cushions. Nancy, on the other hand, is almost ridiculously affectionate, following Becker around the flat chirping or waking him up in the morning with the clatter of her claws on his bedroom floor.
The thing Becker really can’t get used to is living with Connor. Connor, with his habit of leaving clothes strewn across the flat, his wide grins that are disarmingly charming, and his inability to ever stop talking. Becker is used to living in a quiet, tidy, empty home, and he certainly doesn’t have that any more. He can’t even bring himself to resent Connor for this invasion of his personal space; Connor is sweet in his own way, making cups of tea all the time, buying things off the internet to replace whatever Sid and Nancy destroy, and being less nosy about Becker’s belongings than Becker feels he would be if the positions were reversed. If he could only get Connor to stop looking puzzled every time Becker wears something that isn’t his military uniform or reveals that there’s more to his life than taking orders and occasionally shooting things, then everything would be absolutely fine.
Becker just wishes, really, that it would all just stop being so weird.
“Really, thank you so much for this,” Connor is saying. He’s babbling and Becker is trying very hard not to find it endearing, because he’s horribly aware that if anyone else were talking to him like this he’d be willing them to stop talking and probably being fairly obvious about this wish. “I mean, you know, you’re… you and I wouldn’t have expected you do, well, this, and it’s really… really nice.”
Becker waits for a moment, swallowing down a smile that threatens to erupt over his face, and then carefully says: “Are you done?”
Connor grins sheepishly. “Yeah,” he replies. “I just… wanted you to know I’m grateful.”
Becker nods, not entirely trusting himself to speak yet.
“And I’ll take you out for a drink or something to make up for all this.”
There’s something too appealing about going out for a drink with Connor, and it’s probably that thought that makes him respond without even thinking:
“By ‘this’, do you mean you and your tiny destructive dinosaurs trashing my home?”
The smile slides from Connor’s face and Becker suddenly wants to bite his own tongue out.
“I guess, yeah,” Connor mumbles, looking guilty.
Jesus, Hilary Becker, you really are an antisocial bastard who is incapable of communicating with people when you’re not giving them orders. Becker sighs, and tries to work out something placating to say that won’t actually have to use the words ‘I’m’ and ‘sorry’ anywhere near each other; old habits die hard, after all.
“That was shitty,” he mutters, “I don’t mean it and I shouldn’t have said it.”
“You can mean it if you want to,” Connor offers quietly, and Becker feels shittier than ever.
Becker stays late at the ARC the next night, going through various defence strategies with Danny – who takes far more interest in this side of things than Cutter or Jenny ever did – and when he makes it back to the flat he finds Connor has already fallen asleep on the sofa, the television burbling away softly. There’s a Diictodon asleep on his chest, which cracks an eye open when Becker takes a step forward, and gives Becker a look that plainly says that although it tolerates him, if he gets any nearer to Connor he’s going to lose fingers. Becker decides not to risk turning the TV on, and instead heads for the kitchen. The other Diictodon is in there; the newspaper Becker bought this morning is shredded on the floor, though Becker supposes he should be glad his tablecloth hasn’t met the same fate. The little dinosaur immediately comes over to him, twining around Becker’s legs like a cat.
“Hi, Nancy,” he says and neatly steps over her to get Evian out of the fridge. Nancy follows him, butting her head against his calves. “What have you been up to today, other than eating the Guardian?”
Nancy makes a cheerful chirruping noise in response that Becker sincerely hopes doesn’t mean I tore up your duvet – again and then pads off to take a drink out of the water bowl they keep in here for the Diictodons. Becker watches her while he drains his own bottle of water, trying not to let a fond smile creep onto his face. When Nancy’s done, she comes back over and chirrups at him until Becker obediently crouches down and pats her head. In a surprisingly quick move that he doesn’t anticipate at all, Nancy manages to climb onto his lap, pushing at his chest with her little feet until he falls back, Nancy chattering away happily and butting her head against his chin as she stands proud on his ribcage.
“Ok,” Becker laughs, “Ok, you win, ok?” He raises one hand and she snaps playfully at his fingers. “You are a bloody weird little thing, you know that, Nancy?”
She chirps in response and settles down, hard feet digging into his stomach.
“You do realise that you are not actually a cat, don’t you?” Becker asks as she starts making a low growing sound that could be interpreted as a purr. He sighs. “Very well.”
The sound of laughter makes him raise his head; Connor is standing in the doorway looking ruffled and sleepy, grinning down at Becker and Nancy.
“I can kill you in twenty-six different ways,” Becker reminds him, without any real venom. Connor stops laughing, but his grin doesn’t diminish in the slightest.
“I will say that the two of you make a very manly and scary picture, then,” he says, “And I will in no way use the word ‘adorable’.”
Becker attempts a glare that dissolves embarrassingly quickly and Connor starts laughing at him again.
It’s a horrible, wet day, and they’re attacked by prehistoric things that fly; Abby spends about an hour yelling at Becker after he narrowly misses actually shooting one with something that isn’t a tranquilliser gun, and Lester spends another hour yelling at him because several members of the public saw rather more than they were meant to, and there isn’t an inch of Becker that isn’t smothered in mud. He thinks about showering at the ARC but learns that Connor is planning on staying behind to play with the Artefact, which usually means he’s there half the night, and decides to head home and appreciate getting the flat to himself for a while. Given how his day is going, he’s expecting to get back to find that the Diictodons have finally managed to chew through some forgotten electrical cables and burn down the whole block of flats, so he’s pleasantly surprised to find they’ve only destroyed the newspapers he left on the floor in the hope it would stop them from eating things he actually wants to keep.
Maybe Becker is finally starting to learn something about keeping dinosaurs as pets.
“You’re going in the kitchen, brats,” he informs them, carefully shepherding Sid and Nancy inside, making sure they have food and water and an old t-shirt of his to entertain themselves with, and then shutting them in. Provided they’re let out again within a couple of hours, they shouldn’t try and eat through his door.
Becker drops his wet clothes into the laundry basket he keeps in the corner of the bathroom, grimacing at the way they peel unpleasantly from his skin. He’s got a splitting headache – not that he’d ever confess to it; he’s got a reputation to maintain, after all – and, really, he’s had fucking enough of today. He heats the shower up as hot as he can stand, hair in his eyes as he watches muddy water swirl down the drain, burning water pounding his sore muscles.
Finally, when he’s used about half a bottle of shower gel cleaning himself up, Becker concedes that he should probably get out and find some painkillers. The bathroom is full of warm steam and it’s all so blissfully quiet. Becker grabs a towel, winding it around his waist, and goes to find some clothing.
He’s crossing the living room as the front door opens; Becker sighs, and reflects that Connor has absolutely bloody perfect timing. He looks a little like he’s been for a swim fully-clothed, hair plastered flat to his skull, clothes soaked through. For a horrible, timeless moment, Connor appears stuck in the doorway, eyes very, very wide, and it’s only his years of practice in communal showers that keep Becker from blushing.
“Shut the door,” he says at last, because one of them needs to remain calm and past experience suggests that won’t be Connor, “You’re making a draft.”
“Right.” Connor is all but flailing; he manages to shut the front door with a slam that makes Becker’s temples ring with pain. “Um, Becker, you’re, um, you know.”
“Well,” Becker responds, voice thick with sarcasm because it’s really the only defence mechanism he has, “It would rather defeat the object if I showered with all my clothes on.”
“Yeah,” Connor agrees, a little smile flashing awkwardly across his lips. He still looks stunned and seems to be flushing enough for the both of them, and Becker is really not in the right frame of mind to deal with this at all. “Go in the kitchen, Connor,” he orders, making sure to stay dignified because his dignity and this sodden towel are really all he has left to him.
Connor practically runs for the kitchen, shutting the door hastily behind him, and Becker walks into his bedroom with his migraine pulsing behind his eyes. Still, he reflects as he dresses, it’s really a miracle that this hasn’t happened daily, and then winces as his brain finally registers the embarrassment he’s been trying to ignore.
“Oh dear God,” Becker says aloud, before muttering a string of expletives which don’t really make him feel any better.
When he ventures into the kitchen, Connor is perched on the sideboard with the Diictodons snapping at the wet laces of his converse.
“Sorry,” he says, and: “I made you a cup of tea.”
The tea is hot and made exactly the way Becker likes it – strong, milky, and with exactly half a teaspoon of sugar in it – and Connor is looking soggy and sheepish and rather sweet.
“Thanks,” Becker says, and tries to ignore the way Connor currently seems to be incapable of looking him in the eye.
Stuck in traffic on the way to the ARC, Connor stops hopping between radio stations and shifts in his seat to look at Becker.
“Do you actually have a first name?” he asks.
Becker knew he shouldn’t have offered Connor a lift.
“No,” he responds, without missing a beat. “My parents decided not to bother with one.” Connor is looking incredulous, so Becker adds: “They thought about giving me one, and then they said: ‘well, he’s going to join the military anyway, he doesn’t really need one’.”
Connor laughs, though there’s something besides amusement on his face. “So you were always going to be a soldier, then?”
Becker doesn’t want to get into this conversation; not now, not ever, and certainly not without enough alcohol to kill a normal person. He keeps his expression neutral, willing some kind of dinosaur to appear and eat all the cars in front of them so they can get to the bloody ARC already.
For some reason, the homicidal dinosaurs never come when you actually want them to.
“Yes,” he says, keeping his tone clipped. “Everyone in my family’s been in the military.”
Connor’s expression is just a little pitying, and Becker can feel his teeth gritting, his knuckles whitening on the steering wheel.
“When-” Connor begins.
“Look, just because you’re sleeping on my futon doesn’t mean we have to know anything at all about each other,” Becker snaps, a little more venomously than he means to. Connor flinches; Becker wants to apologise, but too many of his buttons have been pressed and he doesn’t trust himself to speak until they get to the ARC and he can become blissfully monosyllabic in the name of professionalism.
Becker cooks dinner that night and tells himself that he doesn’t feel guilty for snapping at Connor at all, because he was entirely within his rights to stop the man prying. Except, a little voice in the back of his head that he’s doing his best to stamp on keeps saying, Connor wasn’t really prying, as such, just asking a couple of perfectly logical questions, and Becker shot him down kind of unceremoniously.
Connor trails into the kitchen after a while, Nancy squirming in his arms, and watches Becker work in uncharacteristic silence. Finally, he says:
“Sorry if I screwed up this morning.” His lips twist ruefully. “I spend my whole life with my foot in my mouth, you know?”
“I may have noticed that,” Becker says, smiling a little to take the sting out of the words. “This morning wasn’t your fault, anyway.”
Connor shifts Nancy, who is trying to escape his hold, and says: “I know that sleeping on your sofa doesn’t give me any right to personal information or whatever, but… I never know what’s going in your head, and it’s kind of weird. That’s all.”
Becker reflects that Connor wouldn’t want to know what’s going in his head most of the time, especially given that a small corner of his mind seems to have devoted itself entirely to debating the attractiveness of Connor’s awkward smiles without Becker ever consciously deciding that that would be an ok thing for it to do. But he’s willing to accept that Connor may actually have a point; after all, Becker never has that problem, Connor tends to spend his time talking about anything and everything that crosses his mind; everyone can read between his lines.
After a moment where the only sound in the kitchen is the soft hiss of sautéing vegetables, Becker makes a decision.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” he says quietly, not looking at Connor, keeping his voice as even and expressionless as he can. “Growing up with your father’s achievements and your grandfather’s achievements and his grandfather’s achievements, and everyone expecting even greater things from you. They cast very long shadows, and the prospect of getting out of them is… daunting.”
Connor says nothing for so long that Becker can feel his spine prickling, even as he continues cooking as though he’s completely fine. This is why he hardly ever talks to anyone who isn’t in the military; actual conversations are horribly nerve-wracking.
“Wow,” Connor murmurs, eventually putting Nancy down on the floor where she immediately dashes to butt her head against Becker’s calves, “I think I finally have a corner of the jigsaw puzzle.”
“I’m not nearly interesting enough to be a jigsaw puzzle,” Becker responds briskly, turning the heat off.
“I think you’re interesting,” Connor tells him blithely, and Becker feels something in his chest tighten, which is not fucking helpful.
“That’s because you know nothing about me,” he shrugs, and gets a smile in return. “If you go and get plates, we can eat.”
They talk about nothing in particular over dinner, the inane sort of conversations they’re both getting quite good at, while Becker privately worries about how much he’s really given away.
Becker has never bothered coming out to his parents because his father would kill him – or would have a damn good go, anyway – and he really loves his mother far too much to make her watch the inevitable ugliness. The Beckers are a military family full of shiny medals and casual homophobia, and he really doesn’t need any of the shit that would come from by the way, I’m gay. It’s probably something he’ll have to deal with in the future when he never brings a wife and children home, but with any luck he’ll be eaten by a giant dinosaur with an impressive amount of teeth first, and then he’ll never have to deal with it.
Most of his sex life has been shrouded in various shades of sheepishness; he’s not ashamed but discretion has always been more important than anything else, and Becker has never allowed himself to be attracted to anyone around him because of the inevitable locker room awkwardness. In many ways, working at the ARC is easier; oh, the being attacked by dinosaurs is still terrifying and strange, and he’s learned a dozen new ways to die that he never considered when he was simply in Special Ops, but at least the atmosphere is different. No less serious, but there’s some breathing room.
On the phone, spewing cheerful lies and variations on it’s classified to his mother, Becker does his best not to feel guilty about the fact she really knows nothing about his life. Connor is pottering around quietly in the kitchen, making cups of tea and burning toast, and Sid and Nancy appear to have tired themselves out, sleeping on cushions they’ve dragged off his sofa and onto the floor. For once, the flat is peaceful and quiet, though Becker suspects it won’t last long.
“You are all right, though, aren’t you, Hilary?” his mother finishes with, maternal anxiety threaded through her voice.
I am currently living with two knee-high dinosaurs and my over-excitable colleague who wears a vast array of very skinny jeans and who I may or may not have a highly inappropriate crush on. Becker can’t say that to his mother for about twelve different reasons, but the words make his mouth twist ruefully anyway.
“I’m fine,” he promises, and hangs up a couple of minutes later.
“Does your mother know what your name is?” Connor asks, walking back into the sitting room and passing Becker a steaming mug.
“Are you ever going to let that go?” Becker enquires a little wearily.
“No,” Connor replies, with a cheerful grin.
It’s been a long day of dashing around after a medieval knight and his very own dragon, and Becker suspects he still has bits of strawberry in inappropriate and unpleasant places. All he really wants is to have a very hot shower and go home, and his goal is very nearly within reach; but, as usual, Connor throws a spanner into the works.
Connor catches Becker before he can make it to the locker room, an anguished expression on his face, a half-grimace, half-smile tugging at the corners of his mouth in a way that makes Becker want to track down whoever has made him look like that and punch them until their nose becomes one with their face.
“Um,” Connor begins awkwardly, “Um, Abby, uh, I mean… I need a favour.”
Becker immediately decides that if the favour is to put in a good word for Connor with Abby, he will refuse, because he is not and has never been a masochist. Connor is looking expectantly at him, so Becker keeps his expression entirely blank and says:
“I’ll make it up to you,” Connor promises quickly, “I’ll do whatever you want.” Becker’s mind helpfully throws up an interesting series of images, most of which would probably result in Connor getting him swiftly dismissed for sexual harassment, and a couple of which don’t even look physically possible. Mercifully, Sandhurst taught him how to keep a straight face, and none of his features twitch in the slightest. “Well,” Connor adds, “Please don’t kill me, but, you know, you could skin me… maybe not, that would be untidy, you wouldn’t like that-”
“Are you drunk?” Becker can’t help asking.
“No, agitated,” Connor corrects him, “But I see why you could be confused.”
“Well,” Becker says, “Why don’t you tell me what that favour is before we start talking about whether or not I’ll flay you.”
Connor gives him a very interesting look and Becker has to mentally rewind and check that he actually did put the ‘f’ into ‘flay’.
“It’s Abby’s brother,” Connor says at last. “He’s lost Rex in a poker game, and I need to get him back before someone works out that he’s not actually a rare species of lizard.”
“Why can’t you just ask Abby to help?” Becker asks.
“She can’t know!” Connor says quickly.
“Why not?” Becker frowns. “Surely she’ll kick her brother out, and then you can go home. And that would be a good thing.”
Connor gets a very closed expression on his face that Becker doesn’t think he’s ever seen before, and he turns.
“I’ll sort it out myself.”
Becker sighs, intercepting Connor before he gets to the door, fingers curling around his arm.
“Just tell me what you want me to do.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in the super weapons cupboard before,” Connor remarks, following Becker inside.
“You can start by not calling it a ‘cupboard’,” Becker replies, flicking the lights on to reveal their giant weapons locker. “And don’t tell Lester I let you in here.”
He walks briskly through the racks of guns, looking for just the right model. Connor follows him a little hesitantly, staring around in fascination. He reaches out to one gigantic gun, and Becker moves quickly to pull his hand away.
“Connor, you’re a surprisingly competent man, but you are rather clumsy. Lester will have a lot of words to say to me if I let you blow your fingers off and none of them will be particularly polite.”
Connor glances up at him, grinning. “You think I’m competent?”
Becker feels himself smiling back before he can stop himself, before he can remind himself that they’re doing a favour for Abby and no matter what Becker does or doesn’t do, Abby will always win hands down. Belatedly, he remembers to let go of Connor’s wrist. “Sometimes.”
“I’ll buy you a drink when we’ve got Rex safely home,” Connor offers, when Becker’s sent his men back to the ARC along with the shiny fuck-off weaponry.
“You don’t have to do that,” Becker replies. “I had fun. I don’t often get to use my scary-tough-guy credentials for fun.”
“I’ll buy you one anyway.” Connor hefts the box with Rex in and Becker can hear the lizard creature scrabbling around inside. “Hey mate,” Connor says quietly, lifting the corner of the box and peering inside, “Nice to see you.”
“You just want to buy me a drink so you can get me pissed and try to find out what my name is,” Becker tells him, as they walk over to his car.
“Maybe,” Connor says, smirking a little.
“You’ll fail,” Becker warns him, smirking back. “Better men than you have tried and got alcohol poisoning as I drank every last one of them under the table.”
It doesn’t take long to drive over to Abby’s and Connor invites him up; Becker considers just staying in the car, but part of him wants to see the home that Connor and Abby and their dinosaurs have created together, just so he can remind himself of all the reasons why he really can’t find Connor as distracting as he does.
Connor opens the box and Becker watches a blur of green fly out of it; Connor’s laughing in delight, though Becker can hear relief in his tone too. Rex swoops around the flat for a while, before finally settling down on top of a bookcase, looking at Becker with something even he can tell is suspicion.
“This is Becker,” Connor says, reaching one gloved hand up to Rex, “You don’t need to be scared of him. He’s a good guy. Kind of emotionally stunted, but a good guy anyway.”
He doesn’t turn around, doesn’t look at him, and for a long moment Becker can only think something incoherent along the lines of oh dear God I can’t do this.
“What does the ‘H’ stand for?” Connor asks over a pint.
Becker raises his eyebrows. “Sorry, what?”
“Your first name begins with ‘H’,” Connor says. “Now I know that, can’t you… fill in the blanks?”
“This isn’t hangman,” Becker can’t help but point out. “And how do you know it starts with ‘H’?”
“I rescued your electricity bill from Sid,” Connor explains. “H Becker.”
“Can’t you train the brats not to eat important documents?” Becker asks, without any real hope.
“You’re changing the subject,” Connor singsongs. “Can I guess?”
Becker sighs, but there are no dinosaurs in the vicinity and he has alcohol now, so he’s feeling more inclined to humour him.
“If you insist,” he says.
“…Harry,” Connor suggests. Becker shakes his head. “Hugo. Uh… Hieronymus.”
“I think Hieronymus Becker sounds pretty good,” Connor shrugs. “And it would explain why you keep it quiet.”
“My name is not Hieronymus,” Becker says, with all the patience he can muster.
“For God’s sake!” Becker is laughing in spite of himself. “No, Connor, my name is not fucking Hermione.”
“Be cool if it was.” Connor looks thoughtful. “Herman.”
“If you keep this up much longer I will knock you unconscious.” Becker delivers the threat with a smile and gets one in return, but a woman at the next table looks over with some concern. Connor doesn’t look particularly intimidated, merely taking another mouthful of his drink.
“Did you google boys’ names beginning with ‘h’?” Becker enquires, trying not to laugh.
Becker actually does start laughing, in spite of his better judgement. “Still no. How many more have you got?”
“Oh, plenty,” Connor responds cheerfully. “By the way, is there a reason you smell overwhelmingly like strawberries?”
It’s possible that Connor is a little tipsy, which doesn’t surprise Becker at all; he looks like a lightweight.
“The dragon threw me into some.” It sounds sort of pathetic and he grimaces, taking a long drink of beer.
“Oh.” Connor looks thoughtful. “I thought maybe you’d started going to the Body Shop; Abby does, you know.”
Becker gazes heavenward, and wishes that he’d decided to have this stupid impractical crush on Lester or Danny or someone with a modicum of dignity and the ability to occasionally not say anything and everything that comes into their heads.
“Ok,” he says carefully, “You are not allowed to speak for the next five minutes, all right?”
“I like strawberries,” Connor mumbles, apparently to himself, but he does obediently shut up.
Just for once, Becker reflects, it would be nice if there were dinosaurs that saw the shiny glowing anomaly and decided not to come through it, and just to stay happily in their own homes. That would be really helpful. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened today, and Becker’s got his work cut out for him, particularly since Abby’s being particularly vehement about the don’t you dare shoot any of them thing. Becker isn’t sure what they’re facing up to at the moment; Connor babbled the name at one point, but all he’s really sure of is that they have these big tails with massive spikes on them, and his day is going to become pretty fucking bad if he or any of the team end up impaled.
Danny’s come up with a clever plan that involves getting hold of an unsafe-looking vehicle and driving it at a speed destined to make him dead extremely quickly – as per usual – and Becker is trying not to kill anything since he’s sure that if Abby yells at him he’s going to end up telling her about her brother and what he did with Rex, and he knows Connor will never forgive him if he spills the beans. People are running around, trying to encourage the dinosaurs back through the anomaly, and sooner or later someone’s going to get a spike through their arm or something, Becker just knows it.
“I think they’re nearly all gone!” Connor calls triumphantly; he’s standing by, waiting to lock the anomaly and stop any more spiky bastards from coming through. Becker nods, and then his attention is caught by another dinosaur running towards them, picking up quite a speed considering how heavy these things are. Connor turns towards it too, mouth opening wide, and Becker realises that Connor isn’t going to be able to get out of the way in time. Before he even knows what he’s doing, he throws himself at the other man, knocking him down and aside seconds before the dinosaur rushes past them, so close Becker hears the spikes of the tail whoosh past his ear.
Connor is speaking words faster than he can understand, squirming in a way Becker is determined to ignore, eyes wide with shock. He thinks there’s thanks in amongst the bloody hell and ow sounds emanating from Connor, and he keeps him pinned down, scanning the horizon for Danny or Abby with any remaining creatures. When he glances back down, Connor has quietened down a little, and there’s something horribly close to a moment when their eyes meet, in spite of the nearby sounds of shouting and general destruction. Becker makes the interesting discovery that, when it comes to times like this, he really doesn’t trust himself at all, and it takes all the self-control he’s spent years cultivating not to lean down, not to shift his hand and clench it in Connor’s hair. Not to-
“You’re really heavy,” Connor complains, which wasn’t really what Becker wanted him to say in this situation, but it’s probably for the best. He pushes himself upright, offering Connor a hand to his feet, keeping professionalism firmly in place because it’s really his only hope. Connor has grass in his hair and his hands are trembling just slightly as he turns his attention back to the keyboard.
Four days later, Becker walks into his bedroom to find that Sid and Nancy have managed to get into his wardrobe and pull out his dress uniform, the one he graduated from Sandhurst in, and have torn it into pieces. Anger, white and pure and uncontrollable, rips through Becker; he drags the bits of fabric away from the Diictodons with so much force that Nancy skitters across the floor, chirping in alarm.
“Get out of here, you nasty fucking things!” Becker hears himself shouting, storming after them to make sure they go. “You should have been fucking put down the moment you got left behind!”
The Diictodons run for the kitchen, chirruping as they go. Connor appears in Becker’s bedroom doorway, looking confused.
“What-” His gaze falls to the dark torn material on the floor. “Oh, Becker, sorry, I’ll-”
“Don’t,” Becker cuts him off. He knows he’s too angry, that he should try and take a breath and choke back some of this fury, but his uniform is in shreds and it’s not so much what it is as what it represents; so he doesn’t really care if Connor’s looking at him with uncertainty and maybe even a certain trace of fear. “Just… just shut your fucking pets up and get the hell away from me. I don’t really want to see you right now.”
He slams his bedroom door in Connor’s face and kicks the useless material, teeth clenched too hard. It shouldn’t matter but it does, it fucking does, and he doesn’t honestly care when he hears his front door close a few minutes later.
By morning he’s calm again, a little astonished at how vehemently he lost his temper, and also rather ashamed. Becker emerges from his room to find that, as he suspected, Connor is not here and hasn’t come back all night. He’ll deal with that. First, he knows, he’ll have to check on Sid and Nancy, and approaches the kitchen door with a certain amount of trepidation.
The Diictodons have opened all his cupboards and his fridge, and the room is a mess. Sid seems to be taking a certain malicious pleasure in gnawing Becker’s things, while Nancy eyes Becker with a certain amount of wariness and doesn’t come running straight over as usual. Becker sighs and sits down on the floor, speaking in a low voice.
“I shouldn’t have shouted at you,” he says, “Although you do both need some house training. But I’d never hurt you and hopefully you know that.”
He feels like an idiot but he’s closer to the dinosaurs than he is to most people in his life, and he can’t have them living here for however much longer it will be while being afraid of him. Eventually, Nancy edges over, and when Becker doesn’t make any sudden movements she climbs into his lap, covering him in flour and egg whites.
“Lovely,” he sighs, rolling his eyes, while Nancy chirps her forgiveness, claws catching in his t-shirt. Sid just pulls a cereal box to pieces, which Becker takes to mean that things are going to remain business as usual.
“You like me really,” he tells the Diictodon, who, as per usual, ignores him.
It’s still very early when Becker makes his way into the ARC; the corridors are empty and quiet, except for a few of his men, who do a very good job of not looking quizzical as Becker strides past.
Connor, as he suspected he would be, is curled up asleep on a bench in the locker room, head pillowed on his arm in a way that looks really uncomfortable. He looks as small and helpless as he did the first time Becker came across him and found himself saying do you want to sleep on my sofa? It’ll be better than sleeping here, anyway before he really thought it through. He still doesn’t regret the decision, even though he thinks he probably ought to, if only because he’s just tormenting himself with constant temptation.
“Connor,” he says softly, and after a moment the other man jerks awake.
“Becker,” he responds, looking stunned. “Um, look, I’ll sort something out, I’ll-”
“I’m sorry,” Becker tells him, quickly, before he can swallow the words back down and use other, inadequate ones. “Really.”
“Why are you sorry?” Connor asks, frowning. “I’m the one whose pets are ripping up your flat. And I’ve figured it out, I can move out in a couple of days-”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Becker says, sitting down on another bench. “You three can stay as long as you need to. I made the offer, and I’m not retracting it.”
“Thank you,” Connor says, sounding surprised. He smiles. “I knew they’d grow on you.”
They’re not the only ones, Becker thinks, and follows it up with the realisation: I’m really in trouble now.